[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
NEXT STEPS ON EGYPT POLICY
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 29, 2013
Serial No. 113-106
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
TED POE, Texas GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MATT SALMON, Arizona THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina KAREN BASS, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
MO BROOKS, Alabama DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
TOM COTTON, Arkansas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
PAUL COOK, California JUAN VARGAS, California
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania Massachusetts
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
RON DeSANTIS, Florida ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
TREY RADEL, Florida GRACE MENG, New York
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
TED S. YOHO, Florida JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
LUKE MESSER, Indiana
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable A. Elizabeth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary,
Bureau of Near East Affairs, U.S. Department of State.......... 6
The Honorable Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defense for
International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense..... 15
Ms. Alina Romanowski, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for
the Middle East, U.S. Agency for International Development..... 21
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable A. Elizabeth Jones: Prepared statement............. 9
The Honorable Derek Chollet: Prepared statement.................. 17
Ms. Alina Romanowski: Prepared statement......................... 23
Hearing notice................................................... 58
Hearing minutes.................................................. 59
Written responses from the Honorable A. Elizabeth Jones to
questions submitted for the record by the Honorable Edward R.
Royce, a Representative in Congress from the State of
California, and chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs......... 61
Questions submitted for the record to the Honorable A. Elizabeth
The Honorable Michael T. McCaul, a Representative in Congress
from the State of Texas...................................... 73
The Honorable Luke Messer, a Representative in Congress from
the State of Indiana......................................... 75
NEXT STEPS ON EGYPT POLICY
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2013
House of Representatives,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:12 a.m., in
room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Edward Royce
(chairman of the committee) presiding.
Chairman Royce. This hearing for the committee will come to
Next steps on Egypt policy is what we're looking at today
and we're looking at a very challenging U.S.-Egypt
Since President Mubarak's fall Egypt has been in political,
economic and social turmoil. This has seriously strained and
some have suggested imperiled our very important relationship
with Egypt. It has certainly put our considerable interests in
the region at risk.
Like many Arab countries, Egypt is struggling to overcome a
lack of democratic traditions. While the Muslim Brotherhood-led
government was democratically elected, it governed
Yet the U.S. administration was perceived in the region as
passive as President Mohamed Morsi grabbed power, squashing
individual rights, sidelining the courts and declaring himself
above the law.
Coptic Christians in particular were left vulnerable,
facing frequent deadly attacks. Today, it is critical the U.S.
use its influence to help guide the new government toward a
democratic constitution that respects individual liberties
including those of women and minorities.
Maybe enough Egyptians have realized that their proud and
historic country could become violent and ungovernable if they
refuse to move ahead in a peaceful and positive way.
This will require that the government reach out to
responsible opposition members instead of vilifying them with a
But it also demands a determined and sustained campaign
against those Brotherhood activists who are deeply committed to
violence and tyranny. The fact that these extremists are
actively hostile to American interests binds us with the
That is why I support a continued and robust military
relationship with Egypt and today we'll hear what the
administration has planned in this area.
A too little noted reality is that Egypt has little chance
of becoming a stable democracy given its destructive economic
policies. Those policies have to change.
The revolt against Mubarak was largely inspired by economic
grievances. For those that remember, they had lines at the
time. Renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto testified to
this committee earlier this year that Egyptian entrepreneurship
suffers from a systemic lack of property rights.
If you've got to pay 22 bribes to open a pharmacy, if you
can't get--exchange title to property, you've got a problem.
Unfortunately, the current government is perpetuating the
stagnant and corrupt Mubarak economic model complete with price
controls on market vendors.
It was market vendors who sparked revolts throughout the
region in 2011 through self-immolation. So this is very
problematic in terms of the failure to make the right economic
Our decades of economic aid to Egypt in the tens of
billions propped up an economy that produced great unemployment
and produced popular discontent.
Development aid without fundamental economic reforms in
Egypt is sure to be wasted. To date, the administration has had
consultations--and some of those are pretty meaningless--with
Congress on its aid plans.
I've sat through some of those meetings and I have to tell
you the point has to be made we've got to put together a plan
that will address these issues of economic reform in that
society. It has to change.
Of course, Egypt is a crisis decades in the making. We
should learn from our mistakes and, more importantly, Egyptians
must learn from their mistakes.
It is they who will determine their nation's future, not
us, and hopefully they'll reject the form of extremism that
will only lead to the rights of women being eviscerated and
minorities under attack in a gutted judicial system.
As one Egyptian recently told The Economist the Muslim
Brotherhood was implementing a plan to burn down Egypt and
destroy its foundation.
While we would like a democratic partner for our many
security interests in the region, we need a partner. We should
push and pull with what influence we have, and I'll now turn to
the ranking member for his opening remarks.
Mr. Engel. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for calling this important hearing. I listened to
your statement and I agree with everything you said.
I want to thank our distinguished witnesses for joining us
today. You all have very difficult jobs and I appreciate your
In managing America's foreign policy there are times when
our ideals and our security interests don't conveniently align.
The situation in Egypt today is case in point.
For the time being, the Egyptian military's recent removal
of President Morsi has replaced one autocratic government with
another. Over the last 3 months more than 1,000 people have
been killed in the crack down on pro-Morsi protesters.
Freedom of the press remains stifled, the economy is
rattled by instability and religious minorities don't feel safe
in their own communities. Yet the government the military
replaced was no paragon of virtue.
It is true that President Morsi won a reasonably free and
fair democratic election with 52 percent of the vote. But at
the time this rushed election took place the Muslim Brotherhood
was the only organized political institution in the country.
Morsi famously promised to rule for all Egyptians but upon
taking office he failed to uphold basic democratic values and
treated his election victory as a license to rule in any way he
President Morsi issued decrees that sacked the prosecutor
general, immunized presidential decisions from judicial review
and shielded the Islamic-dominated Shura Council and the
constituent assembly from dissolution.
He forced through a referendum on a new constitution that
favored Islamists in conservative positions. His government
drafted an NGO law that essentially placed civil society under
His judiciary raised bogus cases against journalists and
activists. His economic ineptitude kept investors and tourists
away and drove the Egyptian economy to the brink of collapse,
and he took no meaningful steps to protect minorities or to
institutionalize respect for human rights in Egypt's Government
By the time the Egyptian military took the extraordinary
step of removing Egypt's first democratically elected President
from power, Morsi was the President in name only.
He had already brought his country to the brink of collapse
and was no longer a legitimate ruler in the eyes of a majority
of the Egyptian people. That was obvious.
Indeed, the future that Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had in
mind for Egypt was one that would have been devastating to most
Egyptians, to American interests and the interests of our
allies in the region.
It is important to recognize that the Brotherhood's early
doctrines provided the intellectual and theological
underpinnings for numerous militant Sunni Islamist groups
including al-Qaeda and Hamas.
And while the Brotherhood officially renounced violence and
terrorism in the 1970s, they have continued to operate in Egypt
as a shadow state hoping to one day institutionalize Sharia law
and build an Islamic caliphate through the region.
So in the wake of Egypt's most recent leadership transition
we must ask ourselves a simple question. Are Egyptians and the
United States better off with a Muslim Brotherhood-led
government that was taking Egypt in a very dangerous and
undemocratic direction or with a military-backed government
that is slowly moving to a reboot of Egyptian democracy?
I think the answer is clear. Immediately after the
transition in July, I supported the temporary halt in F-16
deliveries to Egypt because I thought it sent a simple message
that the U.S. was concerned about Egypt's instability and
But today I do not believe that suspending the military aid
will make the Egyptian Government more democratic or make it
easier for the United States to influence its behavior in the
In fact, I think it's more than likely to have the opposite
effect and I'm afraid it could jeopardize the close U.S.-Egypt
military cooperation that we've worked so hard to build over
the last several decades.
That military cooperation is important. We've spent
billions of dollars. We've cemented relationships. Let's use
them. Let's not destroy them. Let's use them.
This cooperation supports critical U.S. national security
interests in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Our
close relationship means that U.S. Navy ships are granted
special access to the Suez Canal.
U.S. military aircraft are allowed to overtly--I'm sorry,
are allowed to overfly Egyptian air space, and that is
important in what we're doing in Afghanistan.
Our military and intelligence services cooperate on
numerous regional security issues. The Egyptian military
strives to keep the Sinai safe and protect the Egyptian-Israeli
border, and we cannot forget that Egypt fought side by side
with us to expel Iraq from Kuwait in the first Gulf War.
It's clear that the Egyptian military has made some serious
mistakes in managing the ongoing transition. I condemn the
violence used to break up opposition sit-ins last August and
urge the military to refrain from using similar tactics in the
I also hope they will support the creation of an inclusive
government that reflects the interests of all Egyptians.
But if I were given the choice between the military and the
Brotherhood, I'd take the military every time, understanding
that this is really a choice for the Egyptian people.
Finally, with regard to economic assistance, I wanted to
take a moment to express my strong support for funding the
U.S.-Egypt Enterprise Fund for which the administration has
recently requested approval from the Congress.
This fund is an excellent example of how we can leverage
relatively modest amounts of funding to encourage significant
private sector investments into Egypt's economy.
It's my hope that we can look past our disagreements on
other parts of the Egypt aid package and quickly approve
funding for this program.
During this fragile period we should be rebuilding
partnerships in Egypt that enhance our bilateral relationship
and support regional stability, and I hope the administration
will reconsider its decision to suspend most military aid to
Once again, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to thank you for holding
this hearing and I look forward to hearing the testimony of our
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Mr. Engel.
We'll go now to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman emeritus of
this committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Middle East
and North Africa, for 2 minutes.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thanks to Chairman Royce and Ranking
Member Engel for holding this important hearing because it has
not been easy due to the administration's uneasiness in
addressing the American people's concerns about the dire
situation in Egypt and whatever the administration's policy
toward Egypt might be today.
It is ever changing. By failing to act decisively before,
during and after the Morsi era, we have lost so much
credibility and leverage in Egypt.
For not disavowing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from
the start, the moderate, secular and religious minorities in
Egypt felt betrayed and believed that the international
community was supporting terrorists at their expense.
Morsi may have won an election but we all know that
elections alone do not make a democracy. During his time, Morsi
failed to live up to the principles of a democratic society.
He oversaw a crack down on civil society, free speech and
human rights. He imprisoned--he imposed burdensome restrictions
on the media and imprisoned a high number of journalists.
The uptick in confrontations in Egypt is a stark reminder
that the transition to a new democracy is not an easy task but
that is no excuse for anyone to resort to violence.
The Obama administration must act responsibly and
prioritize our foreign policy objectives in Egypt. It's
disappointing that the Obama administration recently suspended
some aid to Egypt without consulting with Congress.
We must use whatever leverage in our foreign assistance
program to persuade the interim Egyptian Government to act
responsibly, to return to the path of democracy and to protect
the rights of all Egyptians.
The balance of Egypt and the stability of the Middle East
may depend on it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen.
The ranking member of the Subcommittee on Middle East and
North Africa is Ted Deutch of Florida. We'll go to him for 2
Mr. Deutch. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding such an
I have many questions and concerns about the decision to
suspend some of our assistance to Egypt.
There is no denying that the violence and the deaths in the
months following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi has been
deplorable and it's been tragic.
Dictatorial violence runs counter to the Egyptian people's
desire to establish a genuine democracy, and as we look back we
must remember that on June 30th a vast and historic gathering
of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand the
removal of Morsi and for a rebirth of true democracy in Egypt.
It's true that the military intervened at the request of
the protesters only after Morsi made clear that he was not
stepping down. The tactics used to transition to a new
government have been deadly authoritarian and clearly
But when General Sisi announced Morsi's removal he did so
with a wide range of Egyptian civil society behind him
including the Tamarod movement, the Coptic Pope and the
Islamist Nour Party.
Even now, General Sisi enjoys popular legitimacy among the
Egyptian people. Our relationship with Egypt is of the utmost
strategic importance to our nation and to regional security.
Egypt provides us with special access to the Suez Canal,
overflights in Egyptian air space and, most importantly, as a
peace treaty with Israel that is vital to regional security,
especially today as Egypt combats terror in the Sinai.
Now, we all understand that our aid to the military might
be better refocused to more shared security objectives such as
counterterrorism and security in the Sinai.
However, I have concerns about--both with the manner in
which the suspension was communicated to Congress and to Egypt,
and I worry that the results of these changes may mean that the
United States may have less leverage to lead in Egypt.
Just yesterday the UAE announced an additional $2.9 billion
in aid for the Egyptian economy. Given the vast resources the
Gulf States have provided to the interim government, we must
act in a way to preserve our influence.
Part of that is through assistance. Part of that is
continuing to advocate for democracy. And as Egypt is currently
working on a political roadmap that will include a new
constitution and elections, now is the time to increase our
leverage to ensure that human rights and inclusive democracy
are cornerstones of the new government that's in Egypt's best
interest but, most importantly, it's in our own best interest.
And I appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Chairman. I yield
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Mr. Deutch.
This morning we're joined by representatives from the
Department of State, Department of Defense, USAID.
Ambassador Jones is Acting Assistant Secretary of State for
the Near East and she previously served as deputy special
representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. She was the U.S.
Ambassador to Kazakhstan back in '95 to '98.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security
affairs, Derek Chollet is a principal advisor to the Secretary
of Defense on international security strategy and policy
And we have Ms. Alina Romanowski, who serves as Deputy
Assistant Administrator for the Middle East bureau of USAID.
She is responsible for oversight of assistance across the
Without objection, the witnesses' full statements will be
put in the record. Members here may have 5 legislative days to
submit any statements or questions that they might have or
extraneous material for the record.
We're going to ask our witnesses to summarize their
statements today and we'll begin with Ambassador Jones.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE A. ELIZABETH JONES, ACTING ASSISTANT
SECRETARY, BUREAU OF NEAR EAST AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF
Ambassador Jones. Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel,
distinguished members of the committee, thank you very much for
inviting us to discuss next steps on U.S. policy toward Egypt
This is a summary of my full statement. Egypt and the U.S.-
Egypt relationship matter to us. Egypt is a vital partner.
Our long-standing partnership is predicated on shared
interests--promoting a stable and prosperous Egypt, securing
regional peace and maintaining peace with Israel, and
countering extremism and terrorism throughout the region.
This partnership has brought the United States significant
benefits--as you have each mentioned, easy transit through the
Suez Canal, military overflights that facilitate our activities
and the counterterrorism and counterproliferation gains that
come from Egypt's efforts to control its borders with Gaza and
security-challenged countries like Libya.
There is no doubt that a reliable Egyptian partner is in
U.S. strategic interests. We firmly believe that the best, most
reliable Egyptian partner is a democratic Egypt.
A sustainable, inclusive, non-violent transition to a
democratically-elected government will give Egypt the best
opportunity to succeed, and Egypt's success can be the region's
Since the January 2011 revolution, Egypt's history has
centered on what Egyptians want for democracy, political and
economic reform and how their government can meet their
Following the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom
and Justice Party won the parliamentary elections and in 2012
President Morsi was voted into power in an election viewed as
free and fair.
However, Mr. Morsi proved unwilling or unable to govern
inclusively, alienating many Egyptians. Responding to the
desires of millions of Egyptians who believed the revolution
had taken a wrong turn and who sought a return to security and
stability after years of unrest, the interim government
replaced the Morsi government.
But the interim government has also made decisions
inconsistent with inclusive democracy. We were troubled by the
July 3 events and the violence of mid-August.
The decision to remove Morsi, excessive force used against
protesters in August, restrictions on the press, civil society
and opposition parties, the continued detention of many members
of the opposition, and extension of the state of emergency have
We have also consistently and strongly condemned the
heinous violence and acts of terror against Coptic churches and
the Coptic community.
At the same time, we have condemned the continuing attacks
on the security forces in the Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt.
After the events of mid-August, the President said we could
not continue business as usual with respect to our assistance.
That decision--after careful review we recently announced a
recalibration of this assistance. That decision ensures that
assistance is directed toward core U.S. interest including
helping Egypt secure its borders in the Sinai, preventing the
flow of weapons into Gaza that threaten Israel and countering
terrorists seeking to attack U.S. and Egyptian interests.
We will continue military training and education as well as
the sustainment of certain U.S.-origin military systems.
However, we are holding the delivery of several major weapons
systems--the F-16s, M1A1 tank kits, Harpoon missiles and Apache
We will work to provide economic support that directly
benefits the Egyptian people including in the areas of health
and private sector development but are not moving forward with
any further cash transfers to the government.
We will review these decisions informed by credible
progress on the interim government's political roadmap toward a
sustainable, inclusive and peaceful transition to democracy.
This recalibration reflects our effort to advance U.S. core
interests in Egypt and the region while impressing upon the
Egyptian leadership the importance of making progress toward a
democratic transition--progress we believe the Egyptian people
Our decision is designed to use our assistance to encourage
such a transition and a strong private sector-led economy that
can reinforce political stability.
We welcome the interim government's commitment to a
political roadmap to restore a democratically-elected civilian
We continue to urge the government to be inclusive, respect
the rights of all Egyptians and respect the rule of law,
freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, the role of civil
society and religious freedom.
Beyond issues related to the roadmap, the United States has
stayed firm to its principles and interests of advancing civil
society engagement by encouraging the passage of an NGO law
that conforms to international standards and Egypt's own
We have registered concerns over the June trial verdict
against NGO workers and have urged redress. We have also raised
our concerns about the state of emergency which the government
recently announced would not be extended when it expires on
On the economy, we are encouraging the interim government
to maintain economic stability, help restore growth and
investment and create jobs.
Egypt has an enormous opportunity now to pursue the
aspirations of the 2011 revolution and to provide for the needs
of the Egyptian people. The United States wants to help.
To do that and to actively advance our core interests in
Egypt and the region, we need to have the ability to continue
U.S. assistance to Egypt.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Engel and distinguished
members of this committee, we want to work closely with
Congress to obtain the flexibility needed to continue our
assistance relationship with Egypt consistent with the law and
our national interest and to encourage progress on Egypt's
Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jones follows:]
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Ambassador.
We'll go now to Secretary Chollet.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DEREK CHOLLET, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF DEFENSE FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT
Mr. Chollet. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Engel and other
distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the
opportunity to discuss the U.S. defense relationship with
The U.S.-Egypt military relationship is one of our most
significant and enduring strategic defense relationships in the
Middle East. It is also a two-way street.
The Egyptian military is able to use our assistance to
purchase U.S. military equipment and also receive the benefits
of training with the world's greatest military power.
But as has been mentioned, the U.S. military is able to
respond to contingencies and conduct operations throughout the
region because of expeditious overflight rights and Suez Canal
This can be critical to mission success. As just one of
many examples, in August 2013 just a few months ago, the USS
San Antonio was approved to transit the Suez Canal within 24
hours of the request, quickly positioning it to respond to
potential unrest in the region.
Without Egypt's expedited approval, we would have had to
wait the requisite 23 days for approval or reprogram other
fleet assets. Strong U.S.-Egypt military relations are also
central to our core security interests in the Middle East.
Our partnership with the Egyptian military assist in
maintaining the Camp David peace treaty with Israel, securing
the Sinai, countering transnational terrorist threats and
securing global commerce by providing safe transit of ships
through the Suez Canal.
Yet, as President Obama, Secretary Hagel and Secretary
Kerry have made clear, we have serious concerns with the events
that transpired in July and August.
Further, as President Obama has said, some decisions made
by the interim government have been inconsistent with inclusive
I can assure you that Secretary Hagel has expressed these
concerns clearly and directly in as many phone calls with
General al-Sisi over the past several months, and just last
month during my own visit to Cairo I discussed these concerns
with General al-Sisi and other senior military officials.
The administration's policy toward Egypt therefore seeks to
achieve a delicate balance of continuing our strong military-
to-military relationship while at the same time recognizing
that we can't, as President Obama has described it, continue
business as usual.
We are therefore moving forward with some aspects of our
assistance and withholding others. We will continue assistance
for border and maritime security, Sinai security and
counterterrorism, all of which advance the goals of our
We will also continue to provide sustainment for existing
weapons systems and funding for military education and
training. This assistance, totalling hundreds of millions of
dollars, is essential to advancing our core national security
interests in the region.
But we will hold deliveries of large-scale weapons systems
including F-16s, M1A1 tank kits, Apache helicopters and Harpoon
missiles. Delivery of these systems could resume pending
Egypt's progress toward an inclusive democratically-elected
Additionally, consistent with our many--the many
conversations we have had with our Egyptian counterparts over
the past several years, we will work with them to determine
whether to sustain certain legacy systems that might otherwise
Let me be clear. The United States considers Egypt to be a
critical partner, one that has helped advance U.S. national
security interests for over three decades.
We want to continue a strong military-to-military
relationship that preserves our strategic interests and we want
Egypt to develop a military that is prepared to meet the
threats of the 21st century.
We also want to see Egypt succeed in moving toward an
inclusive democratically-elected civilian government. This is
in our national interest, it is in Egypt's national interests
and it is in the security interests of the broader Middle East.
Mr. Chairman, the Congress is a critical partner in this
process. Because of the events that unfolded in Egypt in July
and August, it is imperative that we work with the Congress to
move forward together.
The Department of Defense looks forward to continuing these
discussions with the Congress and our Egyptian partners and I
look forward to your questions this morning.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Chollet follows:]
Chairman Royce. Thank you.
Alina, go ahead.
STATEMENT OF MS. ALINA ROMANOWSKI, DEPUTY ASSISTANT
ADMINISTRATOR, BUREAU FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, U.S. AGENCY FOR
Ms. Romanowski. Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel and
distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the
opportunity today to discuss with you the impact of the
administration's recently announced Egypt policy on USAID-
managed assistance and the efforts we are making to continue to
support programs that directly benefit the Egyptian people.
USAID's assistance program in Egypt is a cornerstone of our
bilateral relationship and we are proud of the accomplishments
we have made over the last 30 years.
For example, a recently completed early grade reading
program improved fluency by 91 percent in pilot schools and the
scaled up project reached 1.4 million students in all grade one
classrooms across Egypt.
Our assistance has awarded 185,000 scholarships to girls
and built nearly a hundred schools serving over 44,000 students
in under served communities throughout the country.
Since 2011, USAID has helped start 58 innovative Egyptian
companies, one-third of which are owned by women. We have
assisted thousands of women in rural governorates to exercise
their political and economic rights included helping 48,000
women receive government IDs.
We're also installing new water pipes in upper Egypt,
employing hundreds of Egyptians and supplying water service for
more than 600,000 people in the five poorest governorates.
These are just a few examples of the impact of our program.
However, the events of July 3rd and the violence of mid-
August are deeply troubling to us and as the President said we
could not continue business as usual.
At the same time, we want to make sure that we continue to
do everything we can to promote a sustainable, inclusive and
nonviolent transition to democracy.
Therefore, moving forward we want to work with you to
continue our valuable economic assistance that directly
benefits the Egyptian people. We will pursue our democracy and
governance programs, continue to strengthen civil society and
encourage private sector growth.
We will also continue programs that improve health
outcomes, increase educational opportunities, stimulate private
sector growth and create jobs.
These programs demonstrate to the Egyptian people that the
United States will continue to support their aspiration for
democratic governance and economic opportunities. Consistent
with current U.S. law and policy, programs that do not directly
benefit the government will move forward unimpeded.
These programs benefit a wide range of Egyptian society
including youth, civil society and the private sector. For
example, we recently notified an additional $60 million to
further capitalize the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund, which
will promote much needed development of the private sector in
Egypt, expand access to credit and create opportunities for
Egyptian small and medium enterprises.
Relying on available legislative authorities, we will
continue to provide support for projects that work with the
government in areas of health and democracy.
For example, USAID will support planned electoral events
through the international election observation and voter
We are not moving forward with the $260 million cash
transfer that was to be provided directly to the Government of
Egypt and the $300 million in loan guarantees that were under
consideration for Fiscal Year 2014.
We will work closely with the Congress to ensure that we
have the authorities necessary to provide economic assistance
that advances U.S. objectives in Egypt including fostering
educational opportunities for Egyptian students.
In the meantime, where we do not have these authorities
certain projects that provide assistance to the Government of
Egypt are being wound up.
This includes our basic and higher education projects that
work with public institution or employees and our work
providing technical assistance to government ministries and
We are working with our implementing partners to develop
wind-up plans for these projects which will allow for the
completion of certain project components.
We also will not be able to initiate some planned
activities in sectors that constitute assistance to the
government like education and infrastructure, and we are
considering ways that we can repurpose these funds to more
directly support the Egyptian people such as providing
scholarships to private universities or for study in the United
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Engel and distinguished
members of this committee, we want to work closely with you to
continue providing assistance to the Egyptian people and build
upon the valuable support we have provided to Egypt's
development over the last three decades.
Such assistance is central to our objective in seeing an
Egypt that is making progress on its roadmap and the progress
toward a sustainable, inclusive and nonviolent transition to
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and
I look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Romanowski follows:]
Chairman Royce. Ms. Romanowski, we thank you.
Let me ask you a question because you see the press reports
on the Egyptian Government's move in the wrong direction with
respect to economic reform--harassment of street vendors, you
know, the price controls on the street vendors, undoing the
privatizations undertaken by the Morsi government which was no
friend to start with for economic liberalization.
But you just don't see anything to try to take the informal
sector of the economy and make it formal and I suspect that all
our efforts including Enterprise Funds are going to be wasted
if it goes to defending the economic status quo in Egypt.
If we don't undertake the kind of transformation of the
economy that will allow entrepreneurs, you know, the small
entrepreneur, the vendor, to operate, to start businesses--if
they don't have access to property rights, I don't--I don't
think you're going to have anything except in Egypt that works
for a few Egyptians.
And I guess the question is why should we give economic aid
in that kind of an environment. What are we doing?
Ms. Romanowski. Chair--Mr. Chairman, we have spent a good
part of the last 2 years in reorienting much of our economic
assistance to ensure that we have an opportunity to get to the
private sector and to get to small and medium entrepreneurs.
It is an area where we continue to believe that if you
engage and demonstrate some best practices and some ways of
supporting the small and medium entrepreneurs that we
ultimately will be successful.
Chairman Royce. I think ultimately what you do is--if you
end up just throwing the money into the Enterprise Funds and
not undertaking or walking the Egyptians through the reforms
that will allow people to start businesses, you know, if the
fundamentals aren't there that money is not going to end up
transferring people into the formal economy.
Whereas if you would do--if you do what we've long known
needs to be done it might not be easy--it might mean you'd
really have to lean on the powers in Egypt, but I think you
could make a lot of progress.
We had a hearing here where we had Madeleine Albright. We
had Hernando de Soto. We went through a lot of these issues,
and instead we're right back to the Enterprise Fund concept of
how you're going to dole out money.
I'm very disappointed with the lack of more--of a more
fundamental approach at looking how to reform the economy
because I think it's something that we could really do in a
bipartisan way and help Egypt.
But I'm going to go to Mr. Chollet and ask him--you
mentioned our shared interest in counterterrorism. What is the
administration doing to support the Egyptian military's effort
in the Sinai because that's really slipped out of government
control ever since Mubarak's ouster.
How does the administration's suspension of military aid
impact the Egyptian military's ability to secure the peninsula?
Mr. Chollet. Mr. Chairman, thanks for the question.
The Sinai has been something we've talked to the Egyptians
about over the past several years and a year ago if we were
having this hearing we would be talking about frustrations with
their lack of action in Sinai, and over the past several months
they have been taking significant action in Sinai, some of the
most significant operations that we've seen in many, many years
in terms of dealing with the extremist threat. So that's a good
Chairman Royce. So you're working with the Egyptians to
better tailor their efforts to counterterrorism in Sinai?
Mr. Chollet. Well, we encourage them. These are their own
operations. We're not working in cooperation with them in an
operational way at all.
But we stay in very close touch with them as do the
Israelis on their operations in the Sinai because there are
certain treaty restrictions that they have about the kinds of
capabilities they can deploy to the peninsula under the Camp
The assistance that we are holding--the M1A1 tank kits, the
F-16s, the Harpoon missiles, even the Apaches--is not affecting
their operational effectiveness in the Sinai at all.
Those operations have been ongoing for several months and
they have sufficient capability to take care of that problem.
We do encourage them to do more and we stay in very close
touch with them on their operations and in terms of any
particular needs that they have.
Chairman Royce. Thank you.
Let me quickly go to Ambassador Jones for my last question.
It was the concern about the Coptic Christian community that I
raised in upper Egypt especially where many of Egypt's
Islamists have been active.
You've got close to a hundred churches that have been
burned there over the summer and across Egypt you have a lot of
Christian-owned homes, businesses that have been vandalized or
How can we do more to ensure that that minority, the Coptic
minority and other minorities, are protected in Egypt?
Ambassador Jones. Mr. Chairman, thank you for your
It's a very important issue for the United States. It's an
important--it's an important element of our constant
conversation with the Egyptian--with the Egyptian Government.
We have strongly condemned the attacks on Coptic churches
and on Copts and we have called on the Egyptian Government to
bring those responsible for these--what we consider heinous
acts of terror to bring them to justice.
The Egyptian Government has also condemned these attacks.
But on your--to answer your broader question, this--the
protection of minorities--Christian minorities as well as any
other minority--is a very important element of our ongoing
conversation with the Egyptian leadership about what a
democracy actually involves.
It does involve, as far as we're concerned and this is
something that we advocate strongly to the Egyptian Government,
it involves protection of minorities as well as protections--
the whole list of protections that we've already talked about.
This is something that we will continue to have a spirited
conversation with the Egyptian leadership about to ensure that
they recognize the importance of protecting their Christian
minorities as well as assuring the rights of women, protection
of the rule of law, protection of other human rights,
protection of the press, protection of assembly.
Chairman Royce. Thanks, Ambassador.
We'll go to Mr. Eliot Engel of New York.
Mr. Engel. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to start off by again expressing my disapproval of
the cutting off of aid to Egypt. I really think it's like
cutting off your nose to spite your face. I really do.
I know the administration is trying to thread a needle and
trying to say well, you know, we're going to keep some aid
going because we really don't want to hurt our relationship but
we're going to withhold the tanks and helicopters and F-16s.
The way I look at it, I think these actions make it tougher
for us to influence them, not easier, because I think if
you're--if you're helping you have some influence. If you're
petulantly pulling away then their attitude is going to be
well, why do we have to listen to you.
So tell me that I'm wrong, I mean, because I am really
very, very upset about this and I just--you know, tell me that
I'm wrong. And also, what does the Egyptian Government need to
do for aid to be fully resumed, Ambassador Jones?
Ambassador Jones. Thank you, Congressman Engel.
That's a very important question. It's a question that we
have discussed in considerable detail and extent with the
We have explained to them that as much as we understood the
events that took place from June 30th onward because of the
millions of Egyptians that supported the action that the
interim government took on July 3rd that we nevertheless, as
the President put it, determined that we really could not
continue business as usual given the violence that ensued in
We therefore--as much as we do intend to continue working
with the interim government, we have explained this in great
detail to the interim government and we, as we recalibrated our
assistance, focused on the core national interests of the
United States and in areas that we cooperate on extensively
with Egypt and that serve Egypt's interests as well.
The Egyptian Government has told us that they understood
our decision. They're disappointed by it but they understand it
and they've told us that they are quite prepared to continue
working with us on--in each of the areas that Mr. Chollet and
Ms. Romanowski have described as well as on the roadmap that
will restore Egypt to a democratically-elected civilian-led
Mr. Engel. Anybody else care to comment? Mr. Chollet.
Mr. Chollet. Congressman, I can just affirm what Ambassador
Jones has said, that our conversation with our--and from a
military-to-military perspective our conversation is ongoing,
it's continuous, it's daily.
And we have--I have detected--we have detected--the Defense
Department no change at all in the level of the interaction and
coordination that we have with the Egyptian military over the
last several months.
In fact, the closeness that we've developed over the three
decades of working together has paid great dividends in the
last several months in which we've needed those close contacts
and close relationships.
Mr. Engel. Let me ask you this. I think that the policy on
change on Egypt really cannot be looked at within a vacuum. The
region is falling apart. Syria is spiraling out of control.
Iran looms as a significant threat.
It just seems to me it's not very wise to risk alienating
our traditional allies and friends including Egypt, Israel and
the Gulf States.
So what action did the administration take to consult with
our regional allies regarding the plan to suspend some aid
before the decision was made public?
We've just seen Saudi Arabia lashing out. It just seems to
me it doesn't appear to be very wise to start alienating
governments that we've had 30 and 40 years of cooperation with.
Ambassador Jones. Congressman Engel, thank you for your
It's a concern that we are focused on. We want to be sure
that we are clear as to why we are undertaking the--why we
undertook the decisions that we did with regard to Egypt.
We have had a very significant engagement throughout this
period with the Egyptian Government and with all of our friends
and partners around the world who are particularly--who are
also as interested in Egypt's success as we are, whether that
be in Europe or in the Arab world.
So as things--as things rolled out, as things were underway
in Egypt we were in constant conversation with the Gulf States
that you particularly asked about as well as with our European
allies to think how best we could work with the Egyptians to
talk through how best to--how best to manage the kind of events
that they were--that they encountered as this--as the events
unfolded in Egypt.
So as we made the decisions that we did that were announced
on October 9th, we of course discussed that with the Egyptian
Government, with the Congress and with our friends and allies
who would be--who were particularly interested in Egypt to make
sure that they were informed of our decision and understood the
reasons for it.
So there was no surprise for them with the decisions that
were made because we'd been in such detailed conversation with
them throughout this period as to what it was that we expected
from the Egyptian Government and what we--what our hopes were
for progress in Egypt.
Mr. Engel. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. Thank you.
We go now to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
The Morsi experiment in Egypt was doomed to fail and our
administration's lack of a coherent and consistent Egypt policy
is part of this pathetic state of affairs.
Morsi ruled as a dictator, yet for all his transgressions
the Obama administration did not seek to curtail the amount of
U.S. taxpayer dollars that we kept sending to Egypt.
We did not make access to that money conditioned upon Morsi
and the Muslim-led government meeting even minimal democratic
Now Morsi has been removed from power and violent clashes
continue between pro-Muslim brotherhood forces and the interim
The U.S. continued to fund Egypt after Mubarak was ousted.
During that time, the Supreme Council of the armed forces
assumed control of the government and under its watch there was
an unprecedented crackdown on pro-democracy groups that
resulted in the arrests of 43 NGO workers, many of whom were
Since then, the 43 workers were convicted in a ruling that
had no basis in the rule of law yet no aid was suspended or
recalibrated. No one turned off the spigot.
It's appalling that this administration has not prioritized
the overturning of these politically motivated convictions.
When will the administration push for Egyptian authorities
to pardon these human rights advocates and what are you doing
to support civil society programs in Egypt?
Is the U.S. Government advocating specific reforms that it
would like to see in the new NGO law? What are those? Earlier
this month, the State Department said that the U.S.-Egypt
relationship will be strongest when Egypt is represented by an
inclusive democratically-elected civilian government based on
the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and an open and
But we've lost credibility and leverage throughout the
Middle East due to our erratic policies in Egypt. Many Gulf
nations have stated, as has been discussed, their frustration
due to this administration's handling of Egypt and Syria issues
and because of our misplaced faith in the rhetoric of Rouhani
What are the benchmarks that will be used to assess the
progress of Egypt's transition toward democracy and what if any
assurances has the Egyptian Government given that it is willing
So we'll start, if we could, on the convictions of the
Ambassador Jones. Madam Congresswoman, thank you for the
series of questions. Those are important issues for the United
On the convictions of the NGO workers, we have been--we
have expressed our concern through each of the administrations
that have overseen the trial of the NGO workers.
We have--we have advocated repeatedly very strongly for
redress for the convictions in what we consider to be a
politically motivated NGO trial and there have been quite a
number of representations made to try to address exactly that
With regard to the NGO legislation, we have engaged
extensively with the interim government and with civil society
to make sure that the kinds of things that we believe are
appropriate in an NGO law are included.
These are--these are elements that are--that are important
for internationally accepted NGO laws and we have been, as I
said, in touch with civil society to make sure we are
representing their interests in a clear way.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. If I could interrupt you just a second.
Ambassador Jones. Please.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. On the overturning of the conviction,
what is the message that we are giving whatever government may
be in place? Do we say you must do this--these people are
innocent or what is our specific request?
Ambassador Jones. Thank you for that.
Our specific statement is that this was a politically
motivated trial that has no place in a democratic government
and therefore there must be redress--judicial redress, legal
redress of some kind that----
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. What kind of--what kind of redress do
we--what options are we giving?
Ambassador Jones. For example--for example, that they--that
we have asked that they--that there be no extradition requested
We have asked that they not be notified to the--to Interpol
so that there are no red notices out for them. Those are the
kinds of things that we have--that we have asked specifically
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. And overturning of their sentences--of
Ambassador Jones. We have asked--yes, we've asked for
redress for the sentences.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Redress. Thank you. Sorry, out of time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. We'll go now to Mr. Brad Sherman of
California, the ranking member on the International Terrorism
Mr. Sherman. Thank you.
A number of my colleagues have addressed the concerns of
the Coptic community. This House passed 402-22 just last month
a bill that would create a special envoy to promote religious
freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South
This would be the one concrete thing we could do here in
Washington structurally to be effective in advocating for the
Christian community of Egypt and similarly situated Christian
What is the position of the Department of State on that
legislation, Ambassador Jones?
Ambassador Jones. We have a very active freedom--religious
freedom office in the State Department. We undertake
considerable advocacy all over the world and especially in
Egypt on behalf of religious minorities or religions, not only
But I regret I don't have the official position of the
State Department of the U.S. Government on this particular
legislation. I would like to either ask my colleagues to reply
or take that question back.
Mr. Sherman. Please give us an answer in a few days.
Ambassador Jones. Thank you.
Mr. Sherman. It's clear that the new government in Egypt is
better for the United States as a nation state, more consistent
in its policies in the Middle East with regard to national
On the other hand, we are also the keepers of the great
flame of democracy and human rights. We haven't always been
consistent but our positions for democracy ring loud and clear
decade after decade.
Morsi was elected but he was elected in a way that gives
credence to the view that when you elect the Brotherhood or
similar organizations you get one person one vote one time and
that is the last free election in that society.
What have you done and the State Department done to explain
that while Morsi was elected his departure is not a departure
from the path of democracy, that he was not going on the path
of democracy and that the actions taken by the military and
others to depose him may be a detour that leads to democracy
but certainly it's not a departure from a pristine path?
Ambassador Jones. Congressman, that's an important question
for the people of Egypt. We have been--we have been very clear
as to the importance to us and the people of Egypt for them to
Mr. Sherman. Ambassador, I think you misunderstand the
question. We issue a human rights report. We comment all the
time about democracy in other countries.
The impression has been left, and I think Ileana Ros-
Lehtinen made this, that we didn't criticize Morsi's departure
from democracy but we are criticizing Morsi's departure.
What has the State Department done to inform the world that
Morsi's departure may not be a--you know, was the departure of
an autocrat in preparation rather than the departure of a
pristine democratic figure?
Ambassador Jones. At the time, Congressman, we were very
clear that we understood that the removal of President Morsi
was based on a very strong--very strong view by the--by the
Egyptian people on the basis of millions of people on the
street that they considered the administration not to have been
democratic and we determined that we should continue to work
with the interim government as they announced their roadmap to
return to civilian--to a democratically-elected civilian
Mr. Sherman. How much effort and good faith is Egypt
putting in closing the tunnels between Sinai and Gaza? Are they
doing all they can, Mr. Chollet?
Mr. Chollet. I'm happy to take that one.
They over the past several months have conducted
significant operations to close the tunnels. Obviously, there's
still a tremendous amount flowing into Gaza but they have shown
considerable resolve in addressing that issue recently.
Mr. Sherman. Finally, I'll say--and maybe you'll have to
respond to the record--Morsi came to power in a democratic way
but after he got elected he was not terribly democratic. Yet we
did not suspend aid to Morsi.
Now we've got a new government that isn't behaving any
worse from a democracy standpoint than the Morsi regime and
we're suspending aid. Ambassador, respond as you will.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Sherman, and thank you,
Madam Ambassador. If you could respond in writing to Mr.
Sherman that would be great because his time has expired.
And now we will move to Subcommittee Chairman Smith from
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and welcome to
our panelists to the committee.
In the past couple of years, I've held three hearings on
Egypt focused almost exclusively on the human rights situation
there and the deterioration of human rights.
A fourth hearing was scheduled during the shutdown. It'll
soon be rescheduled. The persecution of Coptic Christians in
general and the abuse of young Coptic Christian teenage girls
and young women for the purpose of coerced marriages to Muslim
men was the focus of two of those hearings--the prime focus.
And, frankly, Michele Clark, who is the adjunct professor
with the Elliott School of International Affairs at George
Washington University, was the former leader at the OSCE with
regards to human trafficking--a very, very smart and
knowledgeable and I think very competent human rights
She came back after field trips to Egypt and said that the
allegation of forced abductions, obviously abductions, and the
coercion into these marriages is real. It is being underplayed
and under recognized by the department.
She pointed out that they--one of her trips just four
lawyers told her of over 500 women, young girls, average age 12
to 14, who have been abducted and forced into these Muslim
The question is I've asked Secretary Posner when he was our
human rights Secretary--Assistant Secretary, I should say--he
said they're looking into it.
When Ambassador Patterson Skyped into this committee, this
was like 8 months after Frank Wolf literally took all of the
testimony from Michele Clark, put it in her hand and
practically begged her to investigate.
Eight months later, I asked her what were the results of
the investigation and she said, well, we haven't gotten around
to it--not gotten around to looking into little girls 12 to 14
and some older who are being forced into these Islamic
marriages, mostly with the Salafists.
They seem to be the ones that are doing it. The government
doesn't seem to take it seriously. When these concerns are
brought to the police they are not only trivialized, they are
just put aside and not investigated.
It is a very serious human rights abuse and I'm wondering
exactly what has the administration done to investigate these
cases--what has been the conversation exactly with the current
government as well as the Morsi government to put a stop to
this hideous practice.
I mean, you can roll your eyes all you want but this is a
very, very serious problem.
I've met some of these parents who have lost their children
when they were abducted. I'm a father of two girls. If somebody
abducted my children I would not cease until I found them, and
I've met with fathers including one in my own district whose
daughter was abducted and was forced into one of these
marriages and is being raped every single day.
When Ambassador Patterson told me on this monitor she
hadn't gotten around to looking at it, I was shocked, I was
dismayed and profoundly disappointed. What are we doing now to
Ambassador Jones. Congressman, I can't tell you how deeply
I share your concern. We all do.
We have issued many statements of deep concern for the--
because of these practices but especially because of the rapes
and the failure of the Egyptian police to investigate these
rapes and to bring those to justice who are responsible for
these. We have----
Mr. Smith. If I could, in terms of the abductions, and
there's even houses where these girls are put in in province
after province. What are we doing to say to the government this
becomes a matter of conditionality for foreign aid to the
Egyptian Government? Are we saying that?
Ambassador Jones. Let me answer it this way, if I may.
Mr. Smith. Please.
Ambassador Jones. We have--this has been a subject of
discussion undertaken by Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry
at the highest levels of the--and I mean the highest levels of
the Egyptian Government and we have instituted programs to
train Egyptian police in women's issues, particularly Egyptian
women police, so that they are empowered to investigate these
crimes so that they are able to--so that women--girls and women
feel safe going to a police station to report these----
Mr. Smith. Again, this is a--thank you for doing that. But
this is an issue that is systematic. It is getting worse.
Michele Clark I just was on--in contact with her. She says it
is getting worse.
There are more of these, not less, and it's targeted
against Coptic Christian girls, and then they force them to
become Muslims. And they even have a term for it. They call it
Islamicizing the womb because any child she bears thereafter
will be a Muslim. What are we doing simply on that?
Ambassador Jones. I agree that it's a terrible situation.
The way--we believe the best way to deal with it is through
rule of law, through enhancing the ability and the capacity of
the Egyptian--of Egyptian institutions----
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Ambassador.
Ambassador Jones [continuing]. To deal with these
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Ambassador. Thank you, Mr.
I'm sorry you're out of time. Mr. Schneider is recognized.
Mr. Schneider. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
I want to thank the witnesses for joining us here today and
for sharing your perspectives. One other thing--Egypt is
clearly one of our most important allies in the region, has
been for over 30 years.
As I understand what you're telling us, we are trying to
convey a message of our commitment to the future and the
aspirations of Egypt and the Egyptian people as a democratic
country, as a pluralistic country, as a partner for peace and
security in the region.
I think one of the things you're hearing from us--I hear
from various groups is that we are sending somewhat mixed
messages. The message isn't getting clearly conveyed that we
are supportive of the Egyptian people.
We are supportive of the path they're taking toward a
democratic process, toward a constitution. But we have serious
concerns about the actions--some of the actions being taken at
How do we change the message? How do we tweak it so that
that commitment to the Egyptian people, to the direction Egypt
is taking is made more clearly? Ambassador Jones.
Ambassador Jones. Congressman, you've stated the--you've
made the statement very eloquently and I appreciate that and I
will--if I may quote that to----
Mr. Schneider. Please.
Ambassador Jones [continuing]. My Egyptian--my Egyptian
I argue that the best way to convey that message, your
message which you stated so clearly, is repetition. It is--it
is constant engagement, which we are undertaking.
It is constant engagement at the senior level as well as--
as well as all levels in Egyptian Government, Egyptian
institutions and with civil society to help them understand how
much we support their democratic aspirations, how much we
support the breadth of what we believe goes into a democracy.
It's not just the roadmap. It's not just a constitution and a
referendum and an election.
As one of your colleagues said very eloquently, there's
much more to democracy than an election and those are the kinds
of concepts that we're trying to get through in some of the
training programs that we fund.
In the military training that we undertake, it's terribly
important for our military colleagues to understand their role
in a democracy, how much they are--their job is to support a
civilian government and the best way we can do this is by
constant engagement and by--and with your help to give us the
flexibility so that we can continue the kinds of programs that
allow us to work with civil society, that allow us to work with
educators, that allow us to work with the Egyptian military,
that allow us to work with Egyptian police to train women
police on the kinds of things that Congressman Smith was
It's a constant intense effort that we--but we need your
help in order to allow us to continue to have the flexibility
and the legislation to continue these programs.
Mr. Schneider. Great. Thank you. I think one of the key
things it's not either or. We need to have the progress made in
We as a country look to Egypt to make sure they are
protecting religious minorities. They are protecting young
women from some of the serious crimes we've heard about.
At the same time, Egypt has been a bulwark of the security
arrangement piece with Israel. Mr. Chollet, I look to you. What
are our long-term plans to make sure that Egypt is able to
modernize its military to be able to secure Sinai, to close
What are we doing to make sure that continues to move
Mr. Chollet. Well, Congressman, we're seeking to continue
this relationship. Although we are holding certain large
weapons systems we are still continuing a large array of
assistance to them and that helps sustain their existing
systems to support operations in Sinai, for example.
It also helps on the training piece because as they train
on these new systems, work with our military and learning how
to use them, it helps them develop skills that they don't
So we very much see this as a long-term relationship. The
reason why we want to work closely with you to forge a way
ahead is because we believe that over the long term this is in
our security interests--that we want to encourage Egypt to move
forward on a democratic process and inclusive transition.
But we believe very firmly that it is in our security
interest to have a strong defense relationship with the
Egyptian military and that's what we're seeking to sustain.
Mr. Schneider. If in the last few seconds I can take back,
how are we doing? Because this relationship obviously isn't in
Russians are looking to build their relationship. How do we
make sure that the primacy of our engagement with Egypt is
Mr. Chollet. Very quickly, it's a relationship we've built
over three decades with them. I think that they want to work
with us. They understand the great--the unique capabilities the
United States military has and they want to learn and work with
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Schneider.
And we will go now to Subcommittee Chairman Dana
Mr. Rohrabacher. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman, and
let's just note and repeat that the future of Egypt is vitally
important to the stability of a huge section of the planet and
we now face with the people who live in that section of the
planet the threat of radical Islamic dictatorship and radical
Islamic terrorism that affects us here.
So we will not be safe if the outcome in Egypt is not the
right outcome, and while we recognize that and we also
recognize that we haven't--there was an election. After years
of authoritarian rule that it looked like Egypt was going
toward a democratic goal.
But that goal was being undermined by Mr. Morsi, who had
been elected and used the power that he assumed in the election
to try to destroy the direction of Egypt's going to a more
democratic country and that had said was trying to redirect
that revolution toward a radical Islamic end, which would have,
as I say, undermined stability.
That we get from your testimony. You understand that. We
all agree on that.
What I don't understand is while we--while we say that, at
the same time we're saying but, of course, General al-Sisi we
do know and we're very grateful to him for stepping in to
prevent this radical Islamic shift that would have destabilized
the region and affected our own national security. We recognize
that. But we're not going to give him any weapons.
We're hanging General al-Sisi and the people that we're
applauding for defeating radical Islam in Egypt--we're leaving
them hanging out to dry. Our words of--yeah, giving them
foreign aid but not the ability to defend themselves means
I remember the surge in--I guess it was '75 when Congress
decided not to provide weapons to the South Vietnamese
It cracked because they said we're not going to be able to
get the weapons to defeat this enemy. Well, if, Madam
Ambassador, we are not going to give them the M1A tanks, we're
not going to give them Harpoon missiles, we're not going to
give them the parts for Apache helicopters, all of which are
needed to make sure that we don't have an uprising in the Sinai
that will destabilize the region and perhaps end up putting
everybody, you know, in jeopardy that we want to succeed, how
can you justify--and when we were just over in Egypt and they
were talking to us about how we need these Apache helicopters--
how can we justify if we do believe that the elimination of
Morsi was positive how can we justify not giving them the
weapons they need to defeat the radical Islamicists that will
change the nature of that situation? Madam Ambassador.
Ambassador Jones. Congressman, let me give you a few top
lines and maybe my colleague, Derek Chollet, can add to it.
We hear your concern. We agree with that concern. That's
why, as we looked at the situation and decided on how we were
going to proceed to send the right signals and yet make it
possible for the Egyptian Government to undertake the kinds
of--the kind of work that we thought suited U.S. national
security interests and Egypt's--that's why we continued
sustainment for this equipment so that they could continue to
use the Apache helicopters that they have without difficulty in
getting the spare parts and the training that they need for it.
So these systems, both the sustainment and the training for
these systems, is part of what we will continue. It's the new
systems that are on hold. But maybe my colleague can fill in
Mr. Chollet. Sir, that's right. So very briefly, we are
continuing to sustain all of the weapons systems that we have
been providing them previously. The policy at this point--the
decision was to hold some new deliveries.
Not cancel the contracts but hold some new deliveries that
they would be getting so they already have 19 or 20 Apaches
This would be holding four new ones that they were to get.
So our judgment is this does not affect their operational
capability right now.
Mr. Rohrabacher. So in the middle of a conflict when people
are using weapons and they are running down, meaning every time
you use a weapon it has less life in it, we're just going to
let them run down until--and the word that we're giving them
and we're sending the Islamicists oh, don't worry, we're not
going to give them any new weapons.
Do you think that will encourage the radical Islamicists in
the Sinai or discourage them?
Mr. Chollet. They have considerable operational capability
in the Sinai that they are using and we are assisting them with
sustaining those weapons systems that they do have which do
overpower the extremists.
Mr. Rohrabacher. Limiting--I'll leave it with this--
limiting what we're doing to help al-Sisi defend himself
against radical Islam and defend Egypt against radical Islam--
limiting that is harming his ability to defeat an enemy that
affects our own national security and we better get--understand
that and putting those limits now while he's in conflict
undermines the competence of his own soldiers that they're
going to be able to succeed.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much.
Mr. Rohrabacher. This is the time----
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Rohrabacher.
Mr. Rohrabacher [continuing]. And not undermine----
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. And I'm sorry. I had lost track of time.
Dr. Bera is recognized. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Bera. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I want to thank
We all acknowledge Egypt's critical role here and that they
are a vital and critical partner and a strategic partner. We
also acknowledge, you know, as we're looking at their
transition over the past few years that democracy is much more
than just a fair election.
By all accounts, Morsi's election was a fair election but
he failed in making needed political reforms. He also failed in
making needed economic reforms and, you know, as we look at our
long-term goals, thinking about how we helped Egypt in this
transition which is, you know, not going to be a matter of
months--it's going to be a matter of years to stability,
economic reforms and political reforms, I'm going to--my
questions are going to be to all three of you how we go about
When we had Secretary Albright here earlier we did ask her
directly the question of whether we should continue to provide
aid to Egypt and military aid, and she was pretty direct in her
answer, saying unequivocally yes because without providing that
and without providing the continued aid we wouldn't have a seat
at the table.
We wouldn't have dialogue and if we wanted to continue to
participate in this long-term strategy we would need to
continue that. Would all of you agree with that statement?
We also--when we had Mr. de Soto here he focused
specifically on the needed economic reforms that would ensure
some stability of democracy and ensure some foundation of
democracy, and maybe I'll ask Ms. Romanowski to start off with.
He really did focus on the importance of property rights
and the importance of rule of law in terms of long-term
foundation of democracy and, you know, from USAID's perspective
what are the things that we're doing to help, you know, move
Egypt in that direction of those reforms?
Ms. Romanowski. Thank you, Congressman, for the opportunity
to talk a little bit about our programs and particularly under
this policy what we hope to be able to continue both because we
have--can proceed with some legislative authorities.
But specifically to your point, we--under our democracy
rights and governance programs we can pretty much continue
almost everything that we do that benefits the Egyptian people.
We can continue to work with civil society to build their
capacity to become advocates of their position.
In fact, we are--we are able to continue the legal
assistance for women and children that Congressman Smith was so
concerned about and we are--we can continue through our work in
On the economic growth, again, we talked--we are trying to
focus more and more our assistance on helping the business
environment and help the emerging entrepreneurs in Egypt to be
able to get access to capital. The Enterprise Fund is one
We are training young entrepreneurs who are coming out of
universities as well as at the very local level to get the kind
of training they need to build good business plans.
We would like to work with Congress as we move forward to
ensure that we can get back to doing the kinds of economic
reforms that we can with--directly with the government.
Mr. Bera. Right. And maybe for Ms. Romanowski or Ambassador
Jones, part of the long-term strategy that Secretary Albright
also pointed toward was building a political infrastructure.
Obviously, part of how Mr. Morsi won the election was there was
just one organized political party.
So in a long-term political system, are we helping the
Egyptians understand that political process and build that
Ambassador Jones. Yes, Congressman, I think that's a very
important element of a lot of the work that we do, not only in
terms of our assistance programs but in terms of the advocacy--
the political advocacy that we undertake with the Egyptian--
with the Egyptian Government, with Egyptian civil society.
We work extensively with Egyptian civil society
particularly on political, how to have a political party, what
goes into a political party, how do you have a platform, how do
you define a platform, how do you raise money--those kinds of
things. So in some ways, the more technical side of political
But we also talk, as we have been working with civil
society and with members of the government, how do you
compromise--how do you attack a problem across party lines. You
could talk about it on our terms or how do you talk about it
across ideological lines if you're not in a political party.
How do you--how do you think in terms of the interests of the
government or the country--how do you think in terms of the
interests of a particular group of people in order to advocate
for your position and to get the changes that you need in your
One thing that we found after the--after the last election
was that some of the minority groups--in particular, women,
others--were disappointed that their voices were no longer
They voted for the government that came in and then were
disappointed that they no longer felt that their voices were
being heard. We said it's not just one--time thing. It's not
just a vote. It's constant effort.
It's constantly rolling up your sleeves and advocating for
your position and working across lines of other minority groups
possibly--other political parties--parties you may never occur
to you to agree with that you may be able to make some kind of
a joint program with in order to pursue your objective in ways
that suits your community or suits your particular minority
Mr. Bera. Looks like I'm out of time.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you very much. And now we will go
to Dr. Yoho.
Mr. Yoho. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I appreciate the panelists being here. I want to build on
what you said just here but I want to--before we go to that,
you know, I look at what's going on over in Egypt and I would
like to have what you think we need to do different.
I mean, I've got numbers here that we've spent--invested
I'll say 70--over $73 billion from 1948 to 1997, roughly around
$46 billion and that was a 50-year period and then the last 15
years we've invested roughly another--the balance of that,
about another $30 billion.
And what I see is just a repeat of the same thing. You
know, we've got a fractured government more than we've ever
seen in the last 30 years since Anwar Sadat. We've gone
backwards, it looks like, and you were talking about how one
voice that get the vote.
But yet in a government that doesn't respect the things
that we hold dear in a Western society or Western values--human
rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion--how can you
expect the voice to be heard by their government if that
government doesn't respect that and should we continue spending
in the same manner that we have been, or what I want to hear
from you is what do we need to do different.
It just--what we're doing is not working. I don't see a
good result for the money we've invested.
Ambassador Jones. Congressman, thank you for that question.
I'd point out--just to point to a couple of things that I
think have worked very well over the years that we have been
working with Egypt and providing the extensive assistance that
you've talked about, I think one of the most important aspects
of this is on the military-to-military cooperation that Derek
Chollet has talked about, in particular in support of the
Egypt-Israel peace treaty.
Thirty years ago, 40 years ago when I first started in the
Foreign Service the idea that Egypt and Israel would be talking
to each other as much as they are about Sinai security was an
unheard of circumstance, and I think we can--we can be very
pleased with the kind of assistance that we've provided and the
kind of political support that we've provided that has brought
I think that's very important. It's terribly important as
far as U.S. interests are concerned that Egypt is going after
the Sinai security issues in the way that Derek Chollet has
But I would also say that the work that we've done over the
years in developing civil society even under the autocratic
rule of Mubarak has been a--was very, very important in
supporting the ideas that the Egyptian people themselves
brought forward in Tahrir Square in 2011.
Mr. Yoho. Well, I hear you say that but then we hear what
Mr. Smith just said about the Coptic Christians and we just saw
what happened, you know, with all the slaughter of them,
And so you're telling me we're making headway but I'm not
seeing it. I've never been there and you have, obviously. But
I'm just not seeing that and go ahead and--let me talk to Mr.
You were talking about the military, how we're helping them
advance it. Again, if we go back and look at history and the
money that we've spent on military assistance it's been $41
billion, $42 billion over the last 50 years. Why has that
government not rised up--raised up and developed their own
What's preventing them from doing it other than are they
just corrupt to the point that they just have their hand out
knowing that America will be there to help shore them up?
When are they going to pick up the ball or the baton and
run with it on their own without our assistance, or is that a
Mr. Chollet. Well, in part what we're trying to achieve is
develop a strong partnership with them so part of our
assistance allows them to buy U.S. systems.
Mr. Yoho. How long is that going to take? I mean, we've
been doing it, again, since the 70s.
Mr. Chollet. Well, and the purpose of that--of the shift
that we saw in the late 70s, early 80s was to get them off the
Mr. Yoho. Right.
Mr. Chollet [continuing]. That they then had onto U.S.-made
systems, which is in our interest for a variety of reasons.
It's in our interest because they're more capable. It's in our
interest because it goes down to U.S. jobs.
It's U.S. systems, U.S. weaponry that they're purchasing
and that they're training on and that they're learning on which
is quite effective when it comes to dealing with their security
needs but also our security needs.
And I think one of the great benefits that we, the United
States, has gotten out of this relationship over the many years
of investment that we put into it is a capable military, a
military that is able to address the real security threats that
it faces and also a military that is living up to its
commitments in the Camp David peace treaty, something that was
unimaginable 40 years ago.
But from the perspective today, Israel and Egypt are at
peace and their militaries do work together to deal with common
Mr. Yoho. I have no--I'll my turn my time back to you,
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Dr. Yoho. Thank you.
I'm pleased to yield time to my Florida colleague, Mr.
Mr. Deutch. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Nice to see you in
the chair again.
Assistant Secretary Jones, you discussed the best way to
communicate our strategy in Egypt and you talked about
repetition at the highest levels and expressing our values to
But how do we--the problem diplomatically I think is not--
and it's a box that I think in many ways we put ourselves in.
It's not how we communicate at the highest levels.
It's how we communicate to the Egyptian people, not waiting
for the military leaders to start espousing great democratic
ideals every day. But how do we let the Egyptian people know
that that--that these are ideals that matter to us, that
they're a fundamental part of our policy?
Many, and you've heard this, and many of the Egyptian
people--the perception of many on the street in Egypt is that
at best is that we simply support who's ever in power, at worst
that perhaps because we didn't speak forcefully enough to them
about democracy during the Morsi period that now they wonder
how strong these beliefs really are.
Ambassador Jones. Thank you. I didn't--I apologize. I
didn't mean to imply that we were speaking only at the highest
We certainly are speaking at the highest levels but we also
have very extensive outreach at the grass roots level through
tweets, through all kinds of public diplomacy programs, through
engagements with university students, with youth, with young
entrepreneurs with as many groups and organizations that we
can--that we can find and have--and have access to, and we have
extensive access all over the country.
It isn't--as you yourself have said, it's not an easy
message to convey but it's one that we work on all the time to
try to help our Egyptian counterparts understand how much we
support their aspirations, why we support their aspirations,
what we think goes into the kind of democracy that they're
working toward, and to work with them in some of the training
that we do and the techniques that one can use in order to get
at some of the progress that they'd like to get to.
Mr. Deutch. Right. At the risk of--at the risk of sounding
perhaps just a tad cynical, as someone who loves to tweet as
much as the next Member of Congress, what are we tweeting about
that carries any sort of significance?
What--in terms of social media all--there's been so much
discussion about the role that social media played and has
played in Egypt, particularly at the outset of the democracy
movement. What are we doing to contribute to that? How do we--
how do we join in?
Ambassador Jones. I regret that I'm the wrong generation to
be--to explain it completely. But I'm always impressed with my
very much younger colleagues who are very good at understanding
how to get these kinds of ideas across in the short form of
tweets but also in engagements with youth.
So the engagements and the public diplomacy goes all the
way from explaining that we haven't cut off assistance. We are
holding some and we're continuing quite a bit.
But it also goes to some of the--some of the political
democracy issues that we talked about--what does freedom of the
press mean, how do you find the balance between support for--
expressing support for the government and yet having a free
voice to say we don't like what the government did on X issue
and that's--and to explain that that's an absolutely
appropriate thing for a stable democratic government that no
one need fear.
Mr. Deutch. And in my remaining minute, Ms. Romanowski, can
you speak to--there's been a lot of discussion here today and
in the press about what's been suspended.
Can you speak to the specific civil society programs that
are ongoing and what kind of democracy building we're seeing
through those programs?
Ms. Romanowski. We have a number of democracy in governance
programs that we're continuing. We are working--we have
implementers who are working on elections and, again, as my
colleague said about how you build stronger political parties,
how you advocate for your positions, how you're more tolerant
of other positions. So we do engage.
We spend a lot of time trying to build up civil society.
How do you--how do organizations become strong enough to and in
many cases it's the mechanics of building an organization that
can advocate, that can raise funds, that can engage with both
their colleagues at the local level and at the national level.
We have programs that focus on anti-corruption. So we're
going to continue and we can continue with those programs.
There was an earlier question about the reaction to the
Government of Egypt on having to suspend some of our----
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you.
Ms. Romanowski [continuing]. Some of our programs.
Mr. Deutch. I just hope, Madam Chairman, that all of those
important civil society programs that we're engaged in that
we're utilizing--that those young kids who are out there
tweeting and on Facebook are making sure that the Egyptian
people understand the involvement that--the role that we're
playing to promote democracy.
Thanks, Madam Chairman.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you, Mr. Deutch. And now we will go
to Mr. Meadows.
Mr. Meadows. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
I want to follow up a little bit on the suspension,
Ambassador Jones. We made a suspension to suspend part of the
aid that we're giving. Was that following law or was it a
policy decision to advance U.S. foreign policy?
Ambassador Jones. It was a policy decision to send a
message to the Egyptian leadership that we were not happy. We
were disappointed by the actions that they took that resulted
in the violence in August, that we could not pursue business as
usual but that we supported the roadmap that they had outlined.
We supported the effort to get to a democratically-elected
government and so we decided to hold on the deliveries. We
didn't suspend assistance.
We decided to hold on the deliveries of some of the larger
weapons systems that were not really necessary in order to
accomplish the goals that we--that we outlined--that we wanted
to continue Sinai security, border security, counterterrorism,
the kinds of things that are critical.
Mr. Meadows. So no--so no law at this point--we're not
complying with any law or going down that direction of saying
that a law was violated and that's why we've suspended or
withheld however, you know, you want to classify it?
Ambassador Jones. We decided that we did not have to make a
determination about--you're asking about whether or not a coup
took place. We decided we did not have to make a decision on
that or make a statement one way or the other.
But we decided we should act consistent with the law and--
Mr. Meadows. I'm a little confused----
Ambassador Jones [continuing]. And that goes to what Ms.
Romanowski has been talking about.
Mr. Meadows. Well, I'm a little confused because both you
and Ms. Romanowski have talked about legislative fixes and if
these are policy decisions how would you need a legislative fix
unless there was a law that was being violated?
Ambassador Jones. We--it's a good question. We have been
briefing staff as much as we can on our--on how we think this
We decided that we did not have to make a determination one
way or the other in terms of the definition but----
Mr. Meadows. So you don't need a legislative fix?
Ambassador Jones. But we felt that we decided that we had
to act consistent with the law and therefore because of that we
believe we need a legislative--we need legislative flexibility
in order to continue the programs that we've been talking about
Mr. Meadows. So you're abiding by the law but you haven't
violated the law. I don't--I don't understand that. Ms.
Romanowski, do you want to comment on that?
Ms. Romanowski. Yeah. If I can--if I can give a very
pointed example, being consistent with the law has allowed us
actually to go forward under other authorities to be able to
continue work that isn't done directly with the Government of
The programs in the case of the economic assistance affect
our basic and higher education because those programs, the bulk
of which work directly with the Ministry of Education and work
in public schools, so public institutions and----
Mr. Meadows. So if a coup had happened you couldn't help
with schools is what you're saying?
Ms. Romanowski. Consistent with that law, abiding by the
law we were not able to continue programs that we work with
government and public institutions and public authorities.
Mr. Meadows. So we can help with schools but we can't help
with the government?
Ms. Romanowski. We cannot help with public schools or
public institutions. We can continue work with private schools
Mr. Meadows. So what legislative fix are you looking at? I
mean, because I'm confused. I would think that the Egyptian
Government would be confused. I mean, what are you--what are
you looking for here?
Ambassador Jones. We're looking for flexibility in the
legislation that would allow us to continue----
Mr. Meadows. That says that we----
Ambassador Jones [continuing]. Programs.
Mr. Meadows [continuing]. We didn't have a coup. Is that
what you're looking for?
Ambassador Jones. In the--in Section 7008 that's----
Mr. Meadows. So basically you're looking for us to say that
a coup didn't happen?
Ambassador Jones. We're looking for the flexibility in the
legislation that allows us to continue programs with the
Egyptian Government that we otherwise are not continuing
because we believe we must act consistent with the law.
Mr. Meadows. All right. Let me, in the 30 seconds I have
remaining, a whole lot has been talked about democracy and
we're all for democracy.
But the underlying--in this hearing months ago the
underlying foundation was economic, economic, economic and it
seems like we're missing a whole lot of the economic viability
that creates instability. I'd love for you to comment if you
have time and if not in written reply later.
Ambassador Jones. I'll make a very quick comment. I agree
with you. We all agree with you that economic reform is a
critical element to what will bring Egypt to the stable country
that we all aspire to.
The kind of economic reforms that are the most appropriate
are ones that have been suggested already by the--by the
international financial institutions.
Those kinds of reforms are ones that we've also advocated
to the Gulf States that are providing economic assistance right
now to Egypt as appropriate for them to advocate for so that--
so that the institutional reforms are undertaken in ways that
produce the kind of Egypt that we all look for.
Mr. Meadows. I'm out of time. Thank you, Madam Chair. I
yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. I thank the gentleman. We go to Mr. Juan
Vargas of California.
Mr. Vargas. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much and, again,
thank you for holding this hearing and I appreciate it and
thank you for the witnesses--for being here.
I have to say that I had great concern when President Morsi
was elected. I believed that the country was going to head
toward radical Islam, and a little test for you here. What's
the largest country in population in the Middle East?
Ambassador Jones. It's Egypt.
Mr. Vargas. It is Egypt--84 million people. I mean, if you
take a look at the size of Egypt, 84 million people, Iran 76
million, Iraq 35 million, Saudi Arabia 30 million.
I think if you have a nation like the size of Egypt sliding
into radical Islam I think it's very problematic. What's the
second largest nation in the Middle East?
Ambassador Jones. I would say my--off the top of my head I
think it's Iran.
Mr. Vargas. It is, with 76 million people and we saw what
happened when you have a nation that large slide into radical
Islam. So I think it's very important that we remain very
engaged with Egypt.
I think it's especially important because of our
relationship with Israel, our strongest ally. If you want to
talk about democracy, now, there's a democracy. They could
teach us a little bit about democracy and that's why I think
we're such allies with Israel.
Now, the relationship between Israel and Egypt is such an
important relationship to remain--to keep the peace in the
I do have great concerns when we start to cut off this aid.
I do. Now, my understanding then from what I hear today is that
we cut off some of the aid but at the same time we continue to
work with them, with their protection and you were describing
that a little bit more but it seems that the Israelis don't see
it that way.
They have some great concerns as I do that we're taking an
ally here and we're hurting them, maybe debilitating them in
such a way that it would become very problematic for our own
So I just want to voice the same concerns that Mr. Elliot
Abrams did. I have great concerns about that. I would want to
ask this, though. Numbers--a number of numbers were thrown out
there so I'd like to ask this. What was our economic aid to
Egypt last year?
Ms. Romanowski. The economic support funds that we give to
Egypt annually are $250 million.
Mr. Vargas. So if you divide that into 84 million people,
and I'm not very good at math, what is that number?
Ms. Romanowski. Can I pull out my computer? I'm afraid
Mr. Vargas. You can--you can round it off here. What do you
think it is? $250 million, 84 million people. Someone want to
help on the panel?
Ms. Romanowski. Three--$2 to $3 at best.
Mr. Vargas. Like $3--a little over $3. A slice of pizza in
New York City.
I mean, it's interesting listening to the numbers here
thrown out like somehow we're, you know, the aid that we're
giving is incredible and, you know, we're going to be able to
force them to change everything because of the $3, the slice of
pizza that we give each one of their citizens. And that's not
going to--that's not going to happen.
I mean, I am very concerned what's happening with the
Coptic Christians, very much so. I'm a former Jesuit and I
think what's happening there is outrageous and we have to do
something about it, and I think that we are. But at the same
time, there's 84 million people there.
I mean, I do think we have to engage the best we can to go
after because I think the comments that were made are real and
we have to do something about that but understanding, again,
We can't walk away from this nation that's so central to
what we're attempting to do to bring peace to that region.
So I do have great concerns, once again, about our--I don't
want to call it disengagement but our somewhat disengagement
there by giving less military aid. I think it is problematic.
I want to see us--I want to see us continue to work with
Egypt, not abandon Egypt. I think that would be a horrible
mistake. Would you like to comment about that, Ambassador?
Ambassador Jones. Yes, Congressman. Thank you very much.
We agree completely that under no circumstances should we
be walking away from Egypt and we designed this policy
precisely to be sure that we don't do that.
So that's why we are working so extensively with the
Egyptian Government about their roadmap to elected government,
to elected civilian government with what all of the rights of
minorities, freedom of the press, those kinds of things, that
we have talked about this morning.
And as we see their progress we will be reviewing our
assistance situation with a look to lifting the holds on--that
we have--that we have--lifting these holds so that we can get
back to the full relationship that you and we and they would
like to have.
Mr. Vargas. Okay. Because I--again, my concern is that we
have some friends in the region. Let's not stiff arm our
Ambassador Jones. Absolutely.
Mr. Vargas. That's a bad policy. Thank you very much. I
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Mr. Vargas.
We're going to go to Mr. DeSantis at this time.
Mr. DeSantis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Did we consult with Israel prior to the decision to
withhold military aid from Egypt?
Ambassador Jones. As events unfolded in Egypt from just
before June 30th--let me throw out June 30th through July 3rd
through the violence in August we were in constant conversation
with Israel as well as with other countries who are as
interested as we are in Egypt's success.
So as the situation unfolded we were in constant discussion
with them as with others as to what our concerns were, what our
hopes were for Egypt to get back on track to a democratically-
elected civilian-democratically-elected civilian government so
that as we made the announcement on October 9th as to the
decisions on how we were going to demonstrate our concern about
what had happened the--we informed the Israeli Government as
well as other governments and so that--and because we'd have
been in such extensive conversation with them this is no
surprise to them and no surprise to others.
Mr. DeSantis. So in terms of the peace treaty between
Israel and Egypt does this decision with military assistance
from Israel's perspective is that helping to solidify that or
is that making that a little more tenuous?
Because when Morsi came in I thought that there was--it
didn't seem to me that that was necessarily viable. I mean,
maybe, maybe not. But under Mubarak we knew that was a bedrock
of the politics of that region.
So that decision--what did Israel say in terms of how that
would affect the viability of that peace treaty?
Ambassador Jones. From everything that--from every
conversation that we had with the Israelis we emphasized the
importance of doing what we--of ensuring that the decisions we
made would be fully--would allow Egypt to continue to be fully
in support of the peace treaty.
Mr. DeSantis. And did you want to----
Mr. Chollet. Sir, if I could just comment briefly.
Mr. DeSantis. Sure.
Mr. Chollet. From the military perspective we are in
constant contact with the Israelis. We have been throughout
In fact, the very week that our policy announcement was
made Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon was in Washington with
his senior team meeting with Secretary Hagel, meeting with all
of us in the Defense Department about Egypt but also many other
issues in the region. So there were no surprises here and they
are fully aware of our thinking on Egypt moving forward.
Mr. DeSantis. So in terms of the Sinai, what is being done
if anything to support the Egyptian military's efforts? Because
I know Morsi had threatened to move force in there and I know
Netanyahu pushed back on that.
And, obviously, we even have some U.S. troops there as part
of a peacekeeping mission.
So what is being done to support the military and then what
contingencies if any do we have if there is a prospect of a
period of instability in that canal zone?
Mr. Chollet. Well, sir, as you mentioned we have about 600
U.S. troops that are in the Sinai right now as part of the
multinational force observer mission that was created by the
Camp David peace treaty.
We do support the Egyptian military in sustaining many of
the systems that are being used in the Sinai. So although we
don't have an operational role in what they are doing in the
Sinai the systems that we help them sustain and train on and
use are being used in the Sinai.
We keep in very close touch with the Egyptian military. Our
Embassy in Cairo and our defense team there as well as us here
in Washington talk with our Egyptian counterparts constantly
about Sinai as well as our Israeli counterparts because there
are certain restrictions that the Egyptians have on them
through the Camp David peace treaty about what sort of
equipment they can use and deploy into Sinai and they have to
coordinate with the Israelis on some of those movements of
equipment to ensure that there's transparency and that both
sides are comfortable with what's happening there.
Mr. DeSantis. And this could be for whoever wants to speak
about it but when Morsi was elected that was viewed as a
positive sign for Hamas.
Now that we have the military who is in charge can you
describe the relationship between what we call the Egyptian
Government at this point and Hamas and do you believe that a
continued deterioration in our relationship with Egypt would
Ambassador Jones. Hamas has taken some hits as a result of
the actions that Egypt has taken in the Sinai to close down the
tunnels, to close down the ability of--to close down
transportation of goods into Gaza.
So my expectation is that Hamas will continue to suffer as
a result of the--as a result of the interim government in
Mr. DeSantis. Thank you. I'm out of time and I yield back
to the chairman.
Chairman Royce. I thank the gentleman.
We go now to Lois Frankel of Florida.
Ms. Frankel. Thank you, Mr. Royce, and I think today's
hearing really brings to home, first of all, that it's
important that we be a model for the world and keep our
Government open. I think that would be a good thing.
But I want to say that Mr. Rohrabacher did lead a trip
this--last couple months that I had the honor of going on. It
was--we went to Cairo and it was probably, for me, one of the
most amazing experiences I had because we got to literally
spend hours with President Mansour, with General al-Sisi, with
the Coptic Pope Tawadros II.
They said some things to me. I don't have a lot of time to
discuss them all but I want to sort of very simply summarize
what they said and tell me whether you agree.
But let's see, we were told that they felt that the peace
treaty with Israel is secure. They would honor it, that they
were committed to also protecting the Gaza Strip, that
President Morsi had overreached and was incompetent, that they
had a plan to get to elections.
They were reforming their constitution now and then they--
and they were going to have elections for Parliament and then a
We were told by the Coptic Pope that Morsi had burned
churches and prosecuted Christians and also I did ask the
question and this, I think, Congressman Royce picked up on this
and I really agree.
I asked the question what is your economic plan. I asked
that to them several times with absolutely no answer. So my
first question to you is whether or not those assertions or
comments that were made to us seem correct and I just want to
say one other thing really to pick up on something that the
The biggest observation I had when I went to Cairo was
literally the hundreds and hundreds of cars on the street that
I saw, which led me to believe that people are really actually
trying to get on with their life, trying to go to work. I mean,
that seemed--that really seemed obvious to me. So if you could
comment on that.
Ambassador Jones. Let me just make a couple of quick
I think definitely we understand exactly as you were told
that there is a strong desire to protect the Egypt-Israel peace
treaty, to honor the peace treaty and to work with it both in
spirit and in substance.
Second, on the constitution there is work underway to
revise the constitution, to bring it into line with what the
committee believes would reflect the views of Egyptian society
There will be a referendum after that, and as I told you
it's just part of the road plan that they outlined the
elections--for Parliament elections for President.
On the economic plan, we have advocated very strongly as my
colleague, Alina Romanowski, has said how important it is for
there to be economic reforms and reforms of economic
institutions to allow the Egyptian people to go about their
business just as you observed so that they can have the--they
can have education for their children, health for their
families--health care for their families, jobs for their
families and a country that abides by the rule of law.
Ms. Frankel. May I just interrupt because I have one other
question that is very important for me to get an answer which
is--because there's a debate about whether to continue with
support or not.
I personally, from what I've heard, would--I am in favor of
continuing support. But I think there's some confusion on this
And do you favor or suggest that we change that provision?
Is that--is that what is driving the decision of the
administration to cut funding?
Ambassador Jones. The decision on assistance and how we
would--how we would--what items we would hold was driven by the
events on the ground. It was driven by the need to send a
message that the kind of violence that we saw in August was not
an appropriate way to pursue the democratic pursuits of the--of
the Egyptian people.
What we're asking for is legislative flexibility so that we
can continue the programs that we think are terribly important
to assure the strengthening of the Egyptian institutions that
we've all talked about, you in particular, that are important
for the Egyptian people to be able to proceed with their lives
in ways that they support and we support.
Ms. Frankel. Mr. Chair, if maybe I could get or this
committee could get an answer--a written answer specifically on
whether we need to change the coup clause. That seems to be--
may be driving some of these decisions.
Chairman Royce. We might be in consultation afterwards with
our witnesses on this.
Ms. Frankel. Okay. Thank you, sir.
Chairman Royce. Good suggestion. All right. Let's go to Mr.
Ted Poe from Texas.
Mr. Poe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all for being
I'll talk, first of all, about the Coptic Christians. Forty
churches bombed and burned since August, untold amount of
damage. Has anybody been arrested? To your knowledge, has
anybody been arrested for these crimes?
Ambassador Jones. I'm not sure I know all the details but
there have been some arrests. But I apologize, I don't know the
details of how many have been arrested in each incident.
But it is a subject that we have discussed in detail
regularly, especially after each of these things happened with
the Egyptian Government and we issued----
Mr. Poe. But you're--excuse me, Ambassador. So people have
been arrested, to your knowledge?
Ambassador Jones. So far as I recall, yes.
Mr. Poe. All right. Who are these people? Who--what group
or groups are behind the 40 bombings of the churches?
Ambassador Jones. I don't think I can give you a
generalized answer to that question.
Mr. Poe. Well, who are some of them?
Ambassador Jones. Some of them are simply people who--some
of them are just--they're simply anti-Christian. Some of them
are--it's vendettas in communities. There are a great variety
I'm not sure I know all of--I certainly don't know all of
them and I haven't been privy to the questioning of those who
have been arrested.
Mr. Poe. Is the United States helping Egypt in any way to
find these criminals or not?
Ambassador Jones. We have worked very hard with the police
to provide training programs so that--so that investigations
can be done in a professional manner and to over----
Mr. Poe. Specifically on these bombings or generally?
Ambassador Jones. Actually, more specifically--more
specifically related to crimes against women but also in
general on investigations of any crime.
Mr. Poe. All right. Would you follow up and find out the
answer to that first question as to how many people if any have
been arrested in these bombings?
Ambassador Jones. Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Poe. All right. It's been mentioned about Hamas. Still
not very clear on what the government's position is--the
Egyptian Government is now on Hamas. What is their position? Is
it cozier, less cozy?
It's a tough choice between the government when they have
to choose between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, not two
very outstanding groups, in my opinion. So what is their
current relationship with Hamas and the Egyptian Government?
Ambassador Jones. The Egyptian Government, of course, is
closing down the tunnels that are--that is an unwelcome event
for Hamas and Gaza. There is, I think it's safe to say, no love
lost between the interim Egyptian Government and Hamas in Gaza.
Mr. Poe. I've heard conflicting reports that human
trafficking is on the increase. It's on the decrease on the
Gaza and the Sinai. Ambassador, you should know. What is it?
Has it increased or has it decreased?
Ambassador Jones. I don't know in which period we're
talking about but in general it has increased. It's a subject
of deep concern to us. It's something that we've been talking
with the Egyptian Government about.
It's one of the things that will be--is addressed to some
degree by closing the tunnels because that's how the--how the
trafficking is undertaken.
But we've also been talking with the Egyptian Government
about the importance of arresting the traffickers,
investigating them and bringing them to justice.
Mr. Poe. Is that occurring?
Ambassador Jones. It's not occurring to the extent that we
Mr. Poe. Mr. Chollet, did you want to weigh in on that? I
see you nodding your head so I thought maybe you wanted to say
Mr. Chollet. Just in agreement.
Mr. Poe. All right. Be specific, if you would, Ambassador.
What do you mean by trafficking? What is--is this human sex
trafficking? Is it drugs? Is it guns? Is it workers? And be
specific, if you will, on where it's going and where it's
Ambassador Jones. The trafficking regrettably involves all
of those things. It's coming across Sinai from parts of Africa,
generally, and it's something that we have been investigating,
documenting and bringing to the attention as much as we
possibly can to the authorities to see if we can get the kinds
Mr. Poe. Where is it going? Excuse me. I'm just down to 30
seconds. So it's coming across Africa. Where is it going?
Ambassador Jones. Into Israel through Gaza.
Mr. Chollet. Sir, one quick thing to add in the remaining
seconds here is that's one of the reasons why one of the
programs that we are continuing is to work with the Egyptian
military on border security in particular because the problem
is they've got bad things coming in to their country
throughout, let's say, from Libya, for example, transiting
through Sinai and ending up in Gaza.
Mr. Poe. And some of those include guns?
Mr. Chollet. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Mr. Poe. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. Thank you, Judge Poe.
Gerry Connolly from Virginia.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome.
Ambassador Jones, in reading your testimony I assume this
testimony was vetted in the State Department and other councils
of foreign policy in the United States Government.
Ambassador Jones. Yes, it was.
Mr. Connolly. I'm reading what I think is one of the most
extraordinary statements I've ever read from a United States
official. Following the historic January 2011 revolution, the
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won parliamentary
elections and President Morsi was voted into power in an
election viewed as free and fair.
I assume that statement means he was--it was a democratic
process and he was democratically duly elected as President. Is
Ambassador Jones. That was the assessment at the time, yes.
Mr. Connolly. Thank you. No, it's the assessment today.
Ambassador Jones. Right.
Mr. Connolly. You made that assertion.
Ambassador Jones. Yes.
Mr. Connolly. Mr. Morsi, however, proved unwilling or
unable to govern in a way that was inclusive, alienating large
swaths of Egyptian society and the interim government that
replaced him July 3rd responded to the desires of millions of
Egyptians who believe the revolution had taken a wrong turn.
Am I to understand from that that the United States
Government is saying even if you win a free and democratic
election if you alienate people in your governance it's okay to
overthrow it? Because I can think of some American
administrations that might qualify for that.
Ambassador Jones. We assessed the situation on the ground
on June--leading up to June 30th, July 1st as being a--because
of the millions of Egyptians in the street we assessed that as
demonstrating considerable discomfort and unhappiness with the
direction that the Egyptian democratic experiment was moving
under President Morsi.
Mr. Connolly. Madam Ambassador, you and I are old enough to
remember the Vietnam War protests. I participated in them.
There were millions of Americans who went in the streets of
this country for years protesting President Johnson, President
Nixon and the Vietnam War policy. Under your logic, that would
have delegitimized those two administrations.
Ambassador Jones. Here's the way I would describe it. There
is a difference--I think a clear difference between the
institutions of government in the United States and the
fledgling institutions of government in Egypt in which the
Egyptian people could see that their--that the voice that they
were--that they exercised in the election was no longer heard
by Morsi who had begun to take over various elements of the
government in ways that they did not support.
Mr. Connolly. So let me get this straight. We favor
democracy unless it's a fledgling government, in which case we
have a special category, and we put them under a certain
scrutiny and if they don't meet standards that are not explicit
it's okay to overthrow that democratically-elected government
even if we don't like it.
Ambassador Jones. It's not a question of what we liked or
didn't like. It was a question of what the Egyptian people--
what the Egyptian people felt was a wrong turn in their
revolution. But we----
Mr. Connolly. Madam Ambassador, based on what? Based on
protests--street protests? Because if you're going to use that
standard you could argue this interim government is equally
illegitimate. Millions of people have protested this government
and hundreds have lost their lives in the form of that protest.
Ambassador Jones. Congressman, that's also why we've been
so engaged and so--and have discussed though extensively with
the interim government the importance of their getting back on
track to a civilian-led government through a democratic
That's why--that's why we support their roadmap but that's
also why we have expanded on what we understand the elements of
democracy to be and the elements that we would promote.
Mr. Connolly. You know, Madam, I'm sorry. I'm running out
of time. I'm also old enough and so are you to remember that
this is precisely the logic used to overthrow the Allende
government and to justify our support for the Pinochet
government, and it led to years of repression in the oldest
democracy in the Western hemisphere--in the southern part of
the Western hemisphere.
It led to thousands of people being killed, tortured and
disappeared. In my view, it is not okay for the United States
of America to say it's okay to overthrow a democratically-
elected government however fledgling and however much we
disagree with it.
And it's a sad day for me to sit here and see my Government
make such a statement.
With that, I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Royce. I thank the gentleman for yielding back and
I'll just in closing go to something that Ambassador Jones made
reference to in pointing out, I think, the IMF type reforms
that--essentially balancing the books.
I want to make it pretty clear that I don't think any
economists believe that that's going to do anything to spark
the Egyptian economy.
I mean, that might be good governance but that's not going
to take care of the problem in Egypt. I've raised this issue
The administration doesn't listen on this issue and I think
that, as Madeleine Albright testified here and Hernando de
Soto, the bottom line is until we have economic freedom in that
country, Egypt is going to stagnate.
You can't have--I think Cairo is probably close to 90
percent informal. You know, it's an easy thing--it's already
been done in the past to go through and try to affix addresses,
set up a property registry, give people title, put something
through so that people can start a business without having to
This is the area that cries out. A lot of work's been done
and never implemented by the Mubarak government, and to not
confront that, to not wrestle with that is going to compound
the problems in Egyptian society going forward, in my opinion.
The other point I would make, Mr. Chollet, in response to
my question earlier, and I know you've made some comments on
this larger weapons systems premise including Apache
helicopters to the sense that this is not going to harm Egypt's
ability to confront a very growing terrorist presence in the
Sinai, I understand your point--well, there's 20 of them out
There's 20 that are getting a lot of wear and tear, and I
don't know how you know that that's all that's needed in an
environment out there where, what, they've closed 57 tunnels
But in the meantime, al-Qaeda is very present along with a
lot of other radical groups and we've got our own national
security interests in seeing that the Sinai--that the anarchy
there be quelled--that these radical organizations be pushed
And it's the Egyptian military that's engaged in
confronting these groups with this increased operation, which
is clearly degrading their weaponry. I mean, they're also
engaged up in northern, you know, Egypt with the same kind of
And I would just urge the administration to reconsider its
decision to withhold the sale of weapons systems that are going
to be increasingly important to Egypt's ability to confront
terrorist organizations and I think you ought to rethink that.
But I do want to thank all our witnesses for coming and
testifying here today and we stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:18 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record